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Entries in Mission Impossible (19)

Saturday
Feb272016

Film Bitch Awards - Best Scenes of Multiple Kinds

We're nearly finished* with 2015 Film Bitch Awards, our own annual year in review yearbook/party and of imaginary Oscar ballot (well, half of it is that). Today the remainder of our Best Scene categories with six final scene categories. This group hands more nominations to films from the top ten list of course but for highlights to point out here on the blog before you click over, we're using films outside the top ten list. 

Obviously this page (and post) of awards contains mild spoilers so if you haven't seen the films and wish to stay pure, these are not the awards categories you're looking for. Here is one nominee I felt the need to gab about (maybe you will too?) from each category...

BEST KISS
While Creed was mostly ignored by the Academy, chances are its big box office (which significantly outgrossed Stallone's last two attempts are reigniting the franchise) will insure a big career for Michael B Jordan. Can Tessa Thompson hope for the same (it's always trickier for actresses of color)? They're wonderful together. Especially endearing is the scene in her apartment where Adonis makes up a godawful wrap and they end up collapsed on the floor, caught up in the moment. It's an upside down shot from above and they're something beautifully innocent and pure but also sexy about this kiss. (Later they'll bring the heat in a proper sex scene at Rocky's house. "but what about your Uncle?" / "He old!" Ha!)

SEX SCENE
Angelina Jolie's third directorial effort By the Sea was mercilessly trashed upon arrival but this was always going to be its fate. The Jolie-Pitts are extremely mainstream-famous. And household name blockbuster stars that the public has longed to see paired again onscreen aren't supposed to reunite for an indulgent overly serious tribute to Euro art cinema of the 1970s. That's for the other kind of movie star, like the Julianne Moores and the Ryan Goslings of the world, whose filmographies are built on eclectic sensibilities and crisscrossing between the ittybitty and the giant. But By the Sea isn't without its moments. The best scene, repeated in different forms like a musical riff, is when the couple sits on the floor in their hotel room and shyly watches another younger couple (Melanie Laurent & Melvil Poupaud) make love in the next room through a peephole. It's beautifully sympathetic and tragicomic, an estranged couple tiptoeing back to intimacy through surrogates.


OPENING SCENE
David O. Russell's Joy is an easy movie to quibble with. It often feels like five different movies that haven't reconciled themselves. This problem (?) is embedded right in its prologue which jumps from inside a stylized soap opera, to Diane Ladd's wonderfully expressive fable-like narration, and back to the soap opera but this time "outside" of it through a TV set, and into little Joy's bedroom where she makes a castle and theorizes about her possible superpower (maybe she doesn't need a Prince?). Ladd's Grandma guides us through this collision of styles and ideas with an expertly dropped line about Joy's creativity that doubles as a guide to how to watch and make ambitious movies.

The patience to figure it out."

Will Joy grow on us with time? Perhaps it might. Perhaps we quibbled too much. Perhaps Russell didn't have the patience to truly figure this one out but there's a lot to figure therein.

ENDING
Spotlight may have the most mellow finale we've ever nominated in this category but there's something about its sober work ethic and the core ensemble wide shot, with Walter "Robby" Robinson centered, that really lands emotionally and elevates the film. His phone rings and they all just return to work. Where they've always been.

Spotlight..."

CREDIT SEQUENCE
I've been disappointed these last few years that it's more and more common for films to have virtually no credits at the beginning and double up at the ending. So shout out to Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation which has great opening and closing credits. The opening credits would be spoiler-alert central if they didn't come at you so aggressively with machine-gun montage speed. The ending credits are even more stylish --both an homage to the TV show and film appropriate -- with action frames from the film outlined by the wicks of time bombs; this movie is a blast.

[Read more about these two sequences at The Art of the Title.] 

MISCELLANIA - A DOZEN FAVORITE SCENES
When writing about the Film Bitch Awards I often revisit a whole bunch of movies in clip forms, particularly the earlier releases that are blurry int he memory. Here we are at the end of the prize-giving and here comes Diary of a Teenage Girl and it suddenly looks just as good as everyone claimed it to be (I was previously in the admired but only admired camp). It was easy to turn certain movies off after checking the scene in question but I kept getting sucked into this film, as if it were the first time. One of the best moments is an animated interlude "The Making of Harlot" where a 'Beautiful Junior,' getting it on with Minnie, remarks upon her aggressive sexuality with something like judgment in his voice (though he's benefitting). Giant Minnie, holding him in her King Kong paw, turns away, with a single teardrop and casts him aside. True movie magic.

THE COMPLETE "BEST SCENES" CHART

* Only three categories left to announce (Limited Roles x2 & Line Readings). Can you believe we're actually going to finish this year before the Oscars**?! Wheeee. We'll announce those three categories plus all the Gold Silver and Bronze medals at some point in the next 24, ya dig?

** Okay technically I won't have finished, damnit. I never named the Animated Feature nominees (we only go 3-wide here) because I was trying to see Boy and The World before voting. So we'll be finished with everything but that category.

Wednesday
Feb032016

Action Sequences: Man vs Bear, Max vs Furiosa. 

The Film Bitch Awards "extra" categories have commenced. We've already discussed Ensembles, Breakthrough, and Casting and now we hit Action Sequences. These are sometimes hard to define as with the much celebrated fourth installment of Mad Max which could be described in its entirety as "chase sequence" but I've tried to break it down a bit for these purposes. Given the choreography, wonder and passion happening on Fury Road the bar was high and even hugely entertaining fight sequences that I thought would be easy placements for the category like the "Hulkbuster" fight in The Avengers: Age of Ultron or technical wows like Johnson vs. Sporino in Creed (all in one continuous shot!) were edged out.

Films with standard action setpieces, whatever their other strengths, like the two biggest blockbusters of the year (The Force Awakens and Jurassic World) or films with inventive brief moments that didn't quite transcend their otherwise rote action beats (Ant-Man) didn't really stand a chance in this high energy competition that put the motion in motion pictures.

Click the image for more on fine action sequences of the past year in cinema

 

Thursday
Dec102015

Outstanding Achievement in Belated Linkage

It's so tough to keep up with other movie stuffs during precursor week. So here are several news items, essays, montages to help up catch us all up. Ready. Set. Go...

NEWS
i09 One sorcerer supreme is not enough for Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch. He's also signed on to play Jasper Maskelyne, a Nazi-fighter War Magician
The Wrap Universal's Mummy reboot will swap the gender of the monster. Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: Secret Service) will star
Film Stage George Clooney's next directing job is the noir Suburbicon. He's lining up an all star cast and Julianne Moore just joined

Playbill Lee Daniels creating a girl band tv series for Queen Latifah (Empire was such a succcess that there are  lot of music industry series about to hit or in development)
/Film Ang Lee's Thrilla in Manila, a boxing drama is said to be eyeing Ray Fisher as Muhammad Ali and David Oyelowo as Joe Frazier
Guardian looks like it's Idris Elba vs Matthew McConaughey for the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's  Dark Tower

OF INTEREST
Film School Rejects has a curious but interesting take on why people need to stop naming Mad Max Fury Road "Best" of the year
Film School Rejects on the Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation commentary track
Viv & Larry interview with illustrator Alejandro Mogollo Diez who specialize in movie icons
MNPP Rob Kazinsky's new tv show has been renamed... but will it help? People really aren't into the Frankenstein myth that much as evidenced at box office 
Pajiba's review of Joy is getting a lot of traction for its skewering of David O. Russell as a mansplainer of feminism. I suppose I should write about this movie. It's not great but I don't think it's getting a fair shake 
Comics Alliance Frank Miller is not into Netflix's Daredevil choices 

LIST MANIA / AWARDAGE
Washington DC Film Critics award Spotlight best pic but give multiple prizes to Room, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Revenant
African American Film Critics Assn give Straight Outta Compton Pic, Ensemble, and Supporting Actor (Jason Mitchell - weirdly ignored by NAACP). Creed wins three prizes including Breakthrough for Michael B Jordan... um, he broke through years ago people!
Vulture & Slate both do best TV shows of 2015: Jessica Jones, Mad Men, Jane the Virgin etc
The New York Times best theater of 2015: Hamilton, The King and I, Lupita Nyong'o etc

TODAY'S VIEWS
If you haven't yet seen these give them a spin. It's David Ehrlich's Top 25 Films of the Year (his editing skills are absurd but so is having Tangerine way down at #24), Channing Tatum saying 8 Hateful things to a kitten "you know what sucks about you, dude. You don't have thumbs" You know what sucks about you, Chan. You're not in nearly enough of The Hateful Eight to make that 182 minu--- oops, embargo.

THE 25 BEST FILMS OF 2015: A VIDEO COUNTDOWN from david Ehrlich on Vimeo.

 

Saturday
Sep052015

Podcast: Top Tens of Summer 2015

For this week's edition of the podcast, Katey, Joe, Nathaniel and Nick reunite to share their top tens of summer movie season. We allowed ourselves full movies, single moments, general themes. It's a free form top ten roundelay. 

Topics include but are not limited to... 
Mad Max: Fury Road, I'll See You In My Dreams, Jurassic World, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Diary of a Teenage Girl, Amy, Trainwreck, A Little Chaos, Ricki and the Flash, Joss Whedon, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Jada Pinkett Smith, Andie MacDowell, footwear, camera-shaking music, counterprogramming and more...

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments. Share your top ten anything from the summer movie season!

Summer Top Tens

Saturday
Aug222015

What's the best scene from summer movie season?

Team Experience will be sharing highlights of their summer viewing in a week but until then, out of curiousity... What would you name the best single scene of the summer movie season? Here are a bakers dozen of candidates that thrilled yours truly...

• Chez Andie. Magic Mike XXL 
The Opera House. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (and where the hell has this Rebecca Ferguson woman been all our lives?)
The Dream. Inside Out
• A Dangerous Dance. Tom at the Farm 
Furiosa vs. Max. Mad Max: Fury Road - That chained throwdown with Immortan Joe's harem as audience
Saving the Barn. Far From the Madding Crowd. Schoenaerts to the rescue!
Karaoke Night. I'll See You In My Dreams 
Birth of The Vision. Avengers: Age of Ultron. Damn but it's good to see Paul Bettany floating, mysterious, forehead bejewelled, and airbrushed red 
Laced Drink. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Elizabeth Debicki is everything, in OR out of focus
Nested Flashback. Ant-Man. Starring Michael Peña 
Commercial on Loop. The D Train Jack Black's James Marsden obsession begins
Stepmom Stakes ClaimRicki and the Flash. It's always special and too rare to see an actress challenge Meryl Streep to a duel in a face off scene. Go Audra!
Visiting an Old Friend. Grandma. It's been a good summer for Sam Elliott. See also: I'll See You In My Dreams

I wanted to list something from A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence but since the whole thing is brilliant short vignettes, it would take up half the list.

Please do share your favorites! 

Sunday
Aug092015

Ricki Rendazzo, Reed Richards, and Bubbles Bursting

Meryl Streep? Tom Cruise? Pac-Man? Vacation? It's like the 1980s all over again in movie theaters. It was a weak weekend overall with a ton of miniscule new releases and underperforming wide newbies. Meryl Streep had her worst opening weekend in a film sold on mostly on her presence since Prime (2005) before she regained her box office clout with The Devil Wears Prada. The only true success story this weekend was the word of mouth for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation which held on to #1 for another weak. It is definitely a fun summer picture but the "best in the series!" reviews feel like a bit of an overstatement. It's not quite as ambitiously staged and exciting as Ghost Protocol, but it's better than the other action films around it which makes it seem that much better. That opera scene with at least four simultaneous agendas in play and all the deadly assassins totally confused by each other sure is a kick, though, don't you think?

Click to read more ...